Lancer Tactical M4 S-System AEG
Lancer Tactical M4 S-System Review by Booligan
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Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
In the last year or so, there has been a big push not just to make higher quality airsoft guns, but to make them using less expensive materials and techniques to bring the overall cost down. Lancer Tactical has taken this philosophy and ran with it, making AEGs that are between $100-$120, while still having full metal internals and pretty decent externals, especially considering the price. Today, I'll be reviewing their M4 S-System, which is one of their higher priced models, yet still coming in below $120. Keep reading for more information on this affordable and unique AEG model!
I ordered this AEG through Airsplat, who has it available HERE, priced at $118.99. This price puts it at levels not really seen in the last few years as far as plastic bodied, metal gearbox equipped AEGs go. The craziest part is that this isn't even their cheapest AEG, as they have a railed M4 model for $95.99 currently. Now, the S-System being reviewed today is available in both black and tan, and I'll be reviewing the tan model, as you'll see in the pics. Airsplat has a new free shipping promotion for all orders over $89, so even the cheapest model will qualify for it. It was sent via UPS ground,and arrived at my doorstep 2 days later, with no shipping damage or other issues.
Basic Gun Information:
As mentioned before, the Lancer Tactical M4 is a polymer bodied AEG with full metal internals. The S-System being reviewed today has some metal components, especially in the top frame of the rail, however, the vast majority of the gun is made of plastic. I'll go over the individual components in the external section. The gun is designed to be ready to go out of the box, including everything you need to start playing, and at an incredibly affordable price. The performance is skirmish ready, and should allow you to be competitive even in stock form.
The gun arrived in a high quality blue/green box with images of tactical looking gentlemen on one side, as well as basic info about the gun. Inside the gun, you can pull out the foam inner liners and get your first look at the gun itself. I was pleasantly surprised with the construction of the S-System rail, both because it had a large amount of metal in it, as well as how it was attached to the gun, and I'll explain why in the external section!
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
Along with the gun itself, Lancer Tactical included an 8.4v battery, trickle charger, good sized bag of decent quality BBs, cleaning/unjamming rod, a really cheap vertical grip, and a manual. It's a decent little package, much better than some of the bare bones packages that some companies are throwing together, especially considering the price.
Everything all together
Weight: 4 lbs
Length: 30.25 – 33.5"
Sight Radius: 14.75"
This gun would best be described as a full plastic replica, as it has even less metal content than other "plastic bodied" guns. Usually, with a plastic bodied gun, you get a metal buffer tube, outer barrel, controls, etc, but with this, damn near everything is plastic. This is a good and a bad thing, in that yes, it reduces cost and weight, but I think it causes some issues with the weight balance and feel of the gun, as well as the potential for durability problems. I'll go over my individual findings for each section of the gun in this section.
External overview, left side
Overview, right side
In keeping with tradition, I'll start with the stock, which on this gun is a standard LE stock design with a plastic six position buffer tube. The buffer tube was a little loose on mine, so I tightened it up and it was pretty solid. The plastic used on the stock itself feels a little cheap, and has a kind of shiny finish to it. It also wobbles a bit on the buffer tube, so you may want to add some tape to the buffer tube to tighten it up.
Six position buffer tube
Moving forward from the stock, you'll hit the polymer receiver. The receiver itself seems to be made of a strong plastic, and the finish on it looks pretty good. The two receiver halves fit together with zero wobble, and the gun uses both pins to attach the upper and lower receivers. All of the controls, from the selector switch, magazine release, and charging handle are made of plastic. Even the dust cover is made of the same matte black plastic I don't think there will be any durability issues with the controls being made of plastic but I have some slight concerns about the magazine catch, as that can end up getting worn down if it's made of too soft of a material.
Receiver, left side
Faux bolt, one of the few metal parts
The pistol grip is a standard M4 unit, albeit one finished with a tan coloring. The motor adjustment base is made of plastic as well, with a small hex head adjustment screw. The grip feels like it's made of the same polymer as the main body, and the two blend together very well.
Motor adjustment base
Moving forward still from the receiver, you'll hit the best part of this gun, in my opinion: the S-System rail. This system is a unique design that attaches to the upper receiver and gives you a flat top upper rail, as well as a modular lower handguard with removable rails. The entire upper portion of the system is made of metal, with a polymer lower. The lower has metal removable rail segments and is finished in a coloring that matches the rest of the gun. It doesn't appear to be painted, instead the color looks to be molded into the polymer material itself. The handguard is attached to the upper frame using two locking screws. The big plus is that it's a properly designed S-System, instead of the normal one used on most airsoft replicas that requires the use of a special upper receiver that limits your aftermarket parts compatibility.
This AEG uses a special hybrid outer barrel which uses plastic components with a metal middle section. The outer barrel is the biggest negative of the gun that I can see, as it has a bit of wobble between the different sections after using it for a bit, and it's somewhat fragile, given the thin sections of the outer barrel. I tried to remove the flashhider to determine the threading underneath, and with only a small bit of pressure using a wrench, the threads broke clean off. I can't help but think that accidentally running into a wall or dropping the gun could lead to this breaking, without trying to take off the tip. I would advise the switch over to a metal outer barrel system to prevent this from becoming an issue.
Plastic delta ring
Aiming this AEG is easily accomplished using the adjustable flip-up iron sights. The rear is a replica of the ARMS #40 sight, and the front is a PRI gas block flip up sight. Both are made of metal, with solid attachment hardware, and they fit to the gun without any wobble or looseness. One benefit of the S-System is the raised top rail which lets you mount your choice of optic along the full length rail. I like that it's slightly raised, so that you can use even low profile optics without needing a riser mount.
Rear sight folded
Rear sight raised
Front sight folded
Front sight raised
Full length top rail
Lancer Tactical has included some markings on the gun, including a unique serial number for each gun, something pretty rare on a gun of this price. On the left side, you'll find Lancer markings, caliber markings, and the serial number, and on the right side, you'll find a small Made in China mark. The magazine also has Lancer Tactical markings on the bottom, near the winding wheel.
Made in China mark
The included magazine is a metal hi-cap, holding approximately 300 rounds. I tried magazines from JG, Cyma, Star, Classic Army, and G&G, and didn't have any issues with fitment or feeding. The magwell is a little loose with the stock mag, but was improved with other magazines that I tested. The mag fed well, without any noticeable misfeeds to report.
Performance after a 500 round break-in, using Airsplat .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 381.4
Low FPS: 371.2
Average FPS: 376.8
Rate of fire with the stock 8.4v battery came in fairly low, which was to be expected. I was seeing about 16 RPS with the stock 8.4v, but with a mid-output 11.1v LiPo, I got 20 RPS even, which is pretty decent for a stock gun. I think that the motor is the weak point as far as ROF goes, and I plan on throwing a high speed motor in there to see if my assumption is correct. Some users have reported mis-feeding issues, however, using a range of ammo, magazines, and batteries, I didn't have any mis-feeds to report.
Range and accuracy were actually quite good, given the somewhat low FPS, compared to other ACM guns from the last few years. At 155', I was hitting my torso sized target 90% of the time using Airsplat .25g ammo, which falls well within my personal requirements to be called "skirmish ready". It can easily be brought out to the field in stock form and be competitive. Upgrading the battery, or adding a tightbore barrel and better bucking would go a long way in increasing this gun's performance.
Inside this budget AEG, you'll find some decidedly non-budget internals. It's equipped with a metal V2 gearbox fitted with ball bearings, a nylon piston with ported head, ball bearing spring guide, and steel gears with a sector-chip pre-installed. The gearbox was well lubricated and the gears were actually shimmed pretty well, leading to a smooth firing gun. The air seal was decent, but for optimum performance, I'd swap in a new O-ring.
Gearbox, showing selector assembly
Sector chip installed on the steel gears
Ported piston head
Ball bearing spring guide
The electrical components were fair, with thin, stiff wiring, but a decent looking motor. The magnets in the motor are fairly strong, but not the strongest that I've ever seen. I think an upgraded motor will work wonders in this gun.
The brass inner barrel is 363mm long, and has a nicely crowned muzzle. My digital calibers indicate an inner bore of 6.06mm, however, that's not the most accurate way to measure inner barrels. The one piece hop-up unit is made of clear plastic, and has a standard bucking and nub. The gun uses a large spring around the inner barrel to push the hop-up unit against the gearbox, leading to a consistent air-seal.
Inner barrel assembly
The gun is pretty much pre-customized from the factory, but being that it's an M4, you can obviously customize it to your liking. There are a few modifications that I would advise making at some point down the line. First, I would recommend swapping out the outer barrel and buffer tube for metal units. They'll add a lot to the feel and weight balance of the gun, and will add to the external durability. Luckily, unlike most airsoft S-System replicas, the gun uses a standard upper receiver and barrel system, so swapping out the barrel is a piece of cake.
Incredibly affordable – under $120
Uses real type S-System, not the normal airsoft special receiver version
Includes plenty of rails for mounting accessories
Lightweight, makes it good for skirmishing – also a con
FDE coloring looks great with modern loadouts
Included flip up sights are great quality
Comes with decent battery, trickle charger, and 1000 rounds of decent ammo
Skirmishable performance out of the box
The plastic used in certain body parts feels kind of cheap
Nearly the entire gun is plastic, including the buffer tube and outer barrel
Stock has some wobble on the buffer tube
Attempting to remove the flashhider will likely break the plastic barrel threading
The overall light weight makes it feel a little cheap in my opinion
Having never handled a Lancer Tactical AEG, I wasn't sure what to expect from this gun, but I'm pretty happy with this gun. For the price, it's a real contender for one of the top options on the market. I did have a few things that I didn't like about it, namely the plastic outer barrel and buffer tube, as I think these parts really should be made out of metal for durability, but luckily, they can easily be swapped out for metal units. The biggest plus of this gun is the S-System rail, as it mounts up properly to the upper receiver, unlike most other models on the market which use a special upper receiver. This means you can take it off and mount it on another gun, or swap out the front end with something else if you want. In parts alone, this gun is worth its retail price, but it's worth much more as a whole. If you're a new player looking for a starter gun, or a seasoned vet looking for a project gun, this is a fantastic option.
Many thanks again to Airsplat, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!